The Best Dairy Free Chocolate Of 2021
It's a common misconception that vegans can't eat chocolate. Or that vegan and dairy-free chocolates don't exist. But in this day and age, anything is possible, even dairy-free vegan chocolate.
So whether you're on a vegan or dairy-free diet, you no longer have to miss out on this tasty treat.
Before we tell you where to get the best vegan and dairy-free chocolate of 2021, we're going to answer some of the frequently asked questions about vegan chocolate. Hopefully, this helps you make better and more informed decisions when choosing your sweets. Let's get to it!
How is dairy-free vegan chocolate made?
The process of making chocolate has stayed the same since 2000 BC. The Mayans were the first chocolate connoisseurs, and their process of making chocolate is still the same process used to create chocolate today—with some minor help from technology, of course.
All chocolates —vegan and non-vegan—are made from one essential ingredient: cocoa beans.
If you search up a cocoa tree on the internet you'll see these large pods hanging from their branches. No, these are not cocoa beans. When you crack open these pods, you will find the seeds of the Theobroma cacao. These seeds only become "cocoa beans" once they are dried and fully fermented.
At this point, the cocoa beans' taste and smell are far from the chocolate that we are familiar with. During the early stages of fermentation, the cocoa beans smell a bit like vinegar. So, how does something go from smelling like vinegar to the rich and tasty delicacy that we all know and love?
Once the cocoa beans have been fermented for around two weeks, they are crushed into cocoa nibs. These nibs are then roasted and blended into chocolate liquor — not to be confused with chocolate liqueur. Chocolate liquor doesn't contain any alcohol. It's just what they call the chocolate in liquid form.
Now that you know the process of making chocolate, it's clear that chocolate alone is 100% vegan. The additional ingredients you mix into the chocolate are what differentiates vegan chocolate from non-vegan chocolates.
How do I know if my chocolate is dairy-free and vegan?
Figuring out whether your chocolate is vegan or not all depends on the ingredients mixed into the chocolate bar. So let's break down the common ingredients found in the varieties of chocolates to further understand if you're choosing the right chocolate bar.
For chocolate to be considered dark chocolate it must contain 50% to 90% cocoa solids. The other 10% to 40% must be made of cocoa butter and sugar. It must not contain any form of milk, making most dark chocolate dairy-free.
But, some dark chocolate may have few traces of milk due to cross-contamination in the production process. If you want to ensure that your dark chocolate is 100% dairy-free you need to look at the labels on the packaging.
Brands are required to let consumers know if any traces of milk or other allergens can be found in the product.
Keep in mind that dairy-free dark chocolate does not immediately equate to vegan dark chocolate. The only way to know whether your chocolate is vegan is to go through the ingredients.
The best thing to do is to do your research on brands selling dairy-free and vegan chocolate. Brands that are truly vegan and dairy-free will always be transparent about the ingredients they use.
Milk chocolate is categorized as any chocolate containing 10% to 50% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar. The other 50% to 90% is milk in some form. So it's safe to assume that most milk chocolate should be avoided if you're looking for dairy-free vegan chocolate.
Unless the brand of milk chocolate explicitly states that they use substitutes for dairy such as soy, it's best to just avoid it.
Fun fact! White chocolate isn't actually real chocolate. That's because its main ingredients are cocoa butter, sugar, and milk. It contains no cocoa solids, and for a chocolate bar to be considered actual chocolate, it must contain at least 10% of cocoa solids.
Similar to milk chocolate, if the brand of white chocolate does not use dairy substitutes, it shouldn't be part of your list.
To sum it up, a dark chocolate variation of dairy-free vegan chocolate is still the best option of the three.
Are dairy-free vegan chocolate bars healthier?
Short answer: Yes!
But why are they healthier? There are several reasons.
Avoids weight gain and may help with weight loss
Dairy has higher amounts of fat and sugar content, particularly saturated fat. Saturated fats together with trans fats are known as the unhealthy fats that we tend to consume.
When consumed in large amounts it can lead to weight gain and obesity. This can lead to even more health complications related to excessive weight gain such as type 2 diabetes.
Consuming dairy-free and vegan chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, can help you control your weight. All thanks to the high amounts of oligomeric procyanidin naturally found in dark chocolate. This flavonoid has been proven to prevent excessive weight gain by satiating our cravings.
Reduces the risk of various chronic diseases
Vegan dark chocolate has been found to help reduce the risk of various diseases and even lower rates of mortality. The flavanols found in dark chocolate are said to improve blood flow and oxygen levels in the body. This particularly helps reduce the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.
Dairy-free vegan chocolate can also help you avoid consuming the antibiotics and hormones that may be present in inorganically produced dairy. A study conducted in 2015 on the possible negative effects of hormones in dairy concluded that these hormones may be a risk factor for cancer in humans.
Another study funded by the National Cancer Institute in 2017 found that women who consumed more dairy had a 53% higher risk of getting breast cancer. The Life After Cancer Epidemiology study also found that of the women already diagnosed with breast cancer, those who consumed dairy products high in fat had a 49% higher mortality rate.
Lowers your stress levels
Cortisol is a stress hormone found in our bodies that is supposed to prepare us to respond to stressful situations. If your cortisol levels are too high for too long, you could be suffering from chronic stress which can pose many health risks.
The flavonoids found in dairy-free dark chocolate have been proven to lower the cortisol levels in our bodies. Eating vegan chocolate has also been found to increase the dopamine levels in our brains. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that control's our brain's reward and pleasure center.
So the next time you're feeling stressed or bummed out, snack on some vegan chocolate and you're sure to feel better in no time!
Improves gut and digestive health
Obviously, for people who are lactose-intolerant, the main benefit they'll get from eating dairy-free vegan chocolate is not having to deal with the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Consuming dairy when you're lactose intolerant will only lead to an upset stomach, bloating, gassiness, nausea, and diarrhea.
Dairy-free vegan chocolates give lactose-intolerant consumers a chance to enjoy chocolate without worrying about these irritating symptoms.
But, even if you aren't lactose-intolerant avoiding dairy can still improve your overall gut health. Too much dairy consumption can cause an imbalance in your gut. But the effects of dairy on a person's body may still defer from person to person.
What makes the best vegan chocolate brand?
We've given you the rundown on everything you need to know about vegan chocolates. Now comes the most important part, knowing what to look for in a great bar of vegan chocolate.
These criteria will help you identify the difference between good chocolate and great chocolate!
Every great batch of chocolate is made with only the highest quality of ingredients. High-quality chocolates use 100% real cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar as their main ingredients. But some companies will replace these ingredients with cheaper alternatives or add fillers.
Cocoa butter, for example, is often replaced by low-quality brands with vegetable oil or hydrogenated oil that is known to be high in trans fat. They even replace real sugar with artificial sweeteners instead of using coconut sugar which is a more natural and cheaper alternative as well. Some people say they prefer artificial sweeteners because they are 200 times sweeter than real sugar, but they also give you a higher risk of diabetes.
Low-quality brands may claim that cheap chocolate tastes just as good as brands that use high-quality ingredients. But true chocolate lovers can tell the difference.
Brands that use higher quality ingredients have a richer chocolate taste. Low-quality brands tend to be sugar bombs with faint hints of chocolate.
Production and Quality Control
The production process of a chocolate bar is also important to determine which chocolate is the best. The best brands have strict production management and quality control.
It's easy to tell whether a chocolate bar was made with true care. All you have to do is taste it. Some brands will over roast their cocoa beans to hide the flaws of cheap cocoa. Over-roasted cocoa tends to have a burnt taste. It's not the same as the bitterness that you get from dark chocolate. Instead, it has an odd rubbery aftertaste. Low-quality chocolate with bad quality control is also not as melt-in-your-mouth as high-quality brands.
Certification and Labeling
An easier way to identify the best vegan chocolate brands is by looking at their certifications and labels. There are plenty of certifications and labels used to inform consumers of how the chocolate was made and what it's made of.
One of the most important labels to look out for is the USDA-Organic Seal. Products with this seal are certified to have purely organic ingredients and are produced through the best farming practices.
Getting USDA-Organic Certification isn't as easy as you think. It is only given to brands that pass the USDA's strict standards and regulations. It can take years for brands to prepare their products to become USDA-Organic Certified, and it isn't cheap either. Only the best vegan chocolate brands are USDA-Organic Certified.
Other food labels such as soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free, on the other hand, are regulated by the FDA. Like the USDA-Organic Seal, these labels are only given to those that follow the FDA's standards for each category. So if you see a brand with these labels know that they're telling you the truth.
What is the best vegan and dairy free chocolate brand?
By now, you're probably thinking about where you can find a brand that checks all the boxes for being the best vegan chocolate. Luckily, we already researched for you, and we know just the brand you're looking for!
Introducing, MidDay Squares vegan chocolate bars! They aren't just vegan and dairy-free, they're gluten-free, soy-free, and 100% organic as well.
They sell three variations of dark chocolate:
MidDay Squares Fudge YAH Dairy-Free Chocolate
The MidDay Squared Fudge YAH chocolate bar is the #1 Vegan fudge on the market. It is also the MidDay Squares original flavor. It is more simple compared to the other two flavors, but it's definitely just as good.
Because this is dairy-free, the rich dark chocolate flavor of this snack truly stands out. Making the chocolate the star of the show.
If you're looking for a dairy-free substitute for your baked goods, the flavor of the MidDay Square Fudge YAH is best suited as a replacement for chocolate chips.
MidDay Squares Almond Crunch Dairy-Free Chocolate
Want something with a little more crunch? The MidDay Squares Almond Crunch will make you absolutely nuts for chocolate.
You can never go wrong with combining dark chocolate and almonds. The extra protein in the almonds will also help increase feelings of fullness. Making it a great snack for when you're on the go or in the gym and you're looking for something to satisfy your cravings and get rid of hunger.
MidDay Squares Peanut Butta Dairy-Free Chocolate
If you're a fan of chocolate peanut butter cups, the MidDay Squares Peanut Butta chocolate bar is a great dairy-free and vegan substitute.
It's like Reese's Pieces but without all the saturated fats and refined sugar. So you can snack on the MidDay Squares guilt-free!
Each MidDay Squares chocolate bar is made of all organic, dairy-free, and vegan ingredients. Their main ingredients include dark chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, brown rice powder, maple syrup, yacon syrup, sacha inchi protein concentrate, hemp protein concentrate, and pink salt.
Every MidDay Squares chocolate is meant to keep you feeling full and awake throughout the day. So if you're looking for the perfect dairy-free and vegan snack to keep in your pocket every day, this is definitely it!